New Zealanders love travelling the globe - but new research indicates that there may soon be not enough pilots to get us off the ground.
Recent figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority revealed that, between 2009 and 2016, pilot numbers approved for commercial and air transport pilots dropped from 709 to 386.
It's a worldwide trend. The 2016 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook forecasts 614,000 new pilots will need to be trained globally by 2035 to service the increasing numbers of travellers seeking adventure overseas.
The Asia Pacific region leads the charge, with 248,000 pilots needed to keep up with demand - and an international pilot training school in Hamilton will be doing its bit to keep Kiwis flying.
Previously called CTC Aviation, L3 Airline Academy is now part of an international training provider (L3 Commercial Training Solutions) based in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the US. New Zealand Academy Director Peter Stockwell says now is a great time to start training for a career in aviation.
"As the Boeing data suggests, the requirement for airline pilots is forecast to increase significantly over the next 10-20 years on the back of production of new aircraft, driven out of demand by the travelling public."
For New Zealand pilots, the academy offers a Diploma in Aviation, which allows alumni to work in a wide variety of commercial sectors. Through this they will achieve a private pilot licence, commercial pilot licence, C category flight instructor rating and a New Zealand Diploma in Aviation.
"The training involves a series of events covering general aircraft handling, navigation, night and instrument flying that train the pilot to fly the aircraft safely and competently," says Stockwell.
"Students also develop the non-technical personal skills to be effective co-pilots in a multi-crew aircraft and, eventually, aircraft captains."
Stockwell says there are a wide range of employment options for those seeking a career in aviation: "As qualified commercial pilots they are able to take up flying jobs in airlines, flight training schools, and other air transport operations in industries such as tourism, agriculture (top dressing), and aerial mapping to name a few."
He says purchase of CTC Aviation by L3 Technologies will provide locally trained pilots with greater international opportunities.
"CTC Aviation was bought out by L3 Technologies as part of a strategy to increase its commercial services and in particular in aviation training," he says. "Being part of a large corporation offers the potential to grow our business faster and wider."
L3 Airline Academy has alumni flying for a wide range of high-profile airlines and trains pilots for British Airways, Cathay Dragon, Hong Kong Airlines, Jetstar Group, Royal Brunei, IndiGo, Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet.
They tailor flight training to adhere to the specific airline/country regulatory requirements of each airline - allowing great success in pilot placement after training.
"We've been selected to deliver - often exclusively - unique training programmes which take aspiring pilots with very little or no flight experience on a fast-track training programme, tailored to meet our airline partner's standard operating procedures and company culture," says Stockwell.
Once pilots have achieved a diploma, the sky's the limit - no pun intended.
"As we train solely for the airline market, all of our graduates will be flying for many airlines around the world. Quite a few will progress to become aircraft captains and eventually training captains," Stockwell explains.
L3 Airline Academy will hold an open day on July 22 with two lucky dip draws for winners to go up on a flight in a training aircraft or to take control in a D42 simulator.
Stockwell says: "Throughout the day they will have airline pilots on hand to talk about what the training entails, as well as trainees and experts from our training, selection, and management teams."